Count Nutrients, Not Calories

Count Nutrients, Not Calories

Breaking down the calorie fallacy: We no longer need to count calories for optimal health

Count Nutrients, Not Calories

In the health and wellness community, calories are often the preferred measurement of how we gain or lose weight. The message for many years is that the only way we can lose weight is to either consume less energy (reduce our calories) or burn more energy (increase our calories out), but what if I told you that rather than worrying about counting calories or trying to out train your food choices, you could eat incredibly tasty food whilst moving in a way that doesn't put stress on your body at any age or fitness level.

There's a few reasons why as a trainer for so many years I have seen the old methodology so difficult for many. Firstly, most people do not have the willpower, time or lifestyles to either remain in a calorie deficit long term, whilst also trying to manage the cravings that an increased level of exercise places on our body. The more we move, the more our body seeks nourishment. So initially, in a calorie deficit we lose weight, but our body wakes up to the change and starts using less energy. Combine that with the cravings an increased level of exercise adds to our system, plus the stress surrounding the un-sustainable nature of counting and balancing each and everything that passes through your mouth, you are setting yourself up for that yoyo style of results that are often short lived, short term, and certainly not delicious, satisfying and intuitive.

Lets break it down so it is super simple.

It is the type of food, not the number of calories that we should be focusing on. To truly set ourselves up for enjoying our food whilst achieving long term sustainable health and happiness, we need to switch our thinking to become intuitive eaters and remove the stress around each mouthful. 

Lets consider this, 100 calories of ice cream and 100 calories of cauliflower could not seriously be compared or considered nutritionally equal in anyway. Our weight and our ability to lose it long term and in a sustainable way is determined not just by the quantity in the form of a number measurement of energy, but the quality. If you can find the balance and proportion between your healthy fats, well sourced proteins and smart carbs, then you are setting yourself up for delicious long term success. 

Why we lower our carbs and increase our healthy fats and well sourced proteins.

When we eat sugar and refined carbs, they are broken down to glucose in the gut and the glucose is then absorbed into the bloodstream. In response to this, the pancreas secretes the hormone insulin to move the glucose out of the blood and into the liver and muscles where it is stored as glycogen. What happens though, is once the glycogen stores are full, insulin stores any excess glucose as fat. Therefore when we consume processed and refined foods in excess, regardless of the number of calories, we set ourselves up to store more body fat.

It comes down to balancing our macronutrients to manage our insulin response.

We don't eat calories. We eat nutrients. Which is why balancing them can take the stress out of counting and put the focus on quality over quantity.

On one end of the spectrum we have empty calorie foods, these are those that provide energy but lack any accompanying nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids and fibre. We want to avoid those and steer towards nutrient dense real foods. In other words, rather than counting the calories in a food, we choose those foods that its nutrients are proportionate to its energy content. Nutrient dense foods contain the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, amino acids and fibre required to function optimally, naturally burn fat and feel great.

So remember:

  • Not all colories are created equal.
  • Calories in, calories out is not the answer for long term, enjoyable or positive weight loss.
  • Managing your insulin will be a game changer to prevent excess carbohydrates being stored as fat.
  • Fill your plate with healthy fats, a moderate size of well sourced protein and smart carbs that keep your blood sugars stable.
  • Looking after yourself with real food should be enjoyable and sustainable long term.


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